Top-ranked women’s singles star Akane Yamaguchi suffered a shock defeat at the season-ending Badminton World Tour Finals in Bangkok on Thursday at the hands of Olympic champion Chen Yufei.
The Badminton World Federation shifted the $1.5 million flagship event to Bangkok’s Nimibutr Arena because tough pandemic restrictions forced the tournament out of Guangzhou in China.
It was a vital win for fourth-ranked Chen -- who had a disappointing opening round, losing to Indonesian rising star Gregoria Mariska Tunjung on Wednesday.
Chen claimed the first game 21-19 but only after Yamaguchi -- who retained her world title in August -- saved three game points.
Yamaguchi showed some flashes of brilliance in the second and looked like she was on the verge of securing a tie breaker, but squandered a four-point advantage at the interval.
Chen fought back to even the scores and ultimately claimed the second game 21-18 and victory in 49 minutes.